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Rehab Hospitals vs Clinics vs Centers for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

There are many different types of facilities that offer treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. People looking for help to treat a substance use disorder (SUD) can find treatment at rehab hospitals, rehab clinics, and rehab centers. While they all offer similar treatment programs, each provides unique benefits to individuals seeking substance abuse treatment.

Knowing the differences between the rehab facilities available and what to expect from each treatment will help you better understand their differences and how to find the right one for you or a loved one.

Rehab Hospitals for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

A rehab hospital for drug and alcohol addiction provides essential addiction services, such as behavioral therapy counseling and substance abuse education. In most cases, rehab hospitals have a clinical feel and minimal amenities. Rehab hospitals may offer different levels of treatment, including:1

  • Inpatient rehab.
  • Outpatient rehab.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs).

Addiction treatment doesn’t have a predetermined length of treatment. Generally speaking, residential and outpatient treatment last for less than 90 days. However, shorter hospital treatments have limited effectiveness, as most people require longer treatment programs.2 These programs can be a good option for individuals who do not need specialized care. Additionally, individuals with co-occurring health conditions that require medical attention can benefit from this type of setting.

While choosing the right rehab program for you or a loved one, location is often a key component. Attending nearby rehab hospitals can be beneficial for those with a strong support system at home. However, it may also be helpful to consider traveling out of state. A change of scenery can prove beneficial for individuals living in a toxic environment. By removing environmental and emotional triggers, a new environment can give individuals a fresh start to begin treatment.

Rehab Clinics for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Rehab clinics are often smaller facilities that offer outpatient services. Clinics are healthcare centers that provide routine preventative care or offer doctor assessments for new patients. They have a clinical feel and have very minimal amenities.  Sometimes referred to as urgent care or freestanding facilities, these facilities can provide assessment and medical care, including psychiatric care.3

Rehab clinics may not offer as many levels of treatment as rehab hospitals or rehab centers. The type of treatments you can receive at a rehab clinic include:3

  • Early intervention services.
  • Medically monitored inpatient detoxification.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, you can begin finding nearby rehab clinics. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a Substance Use Treatment Locator that includes a comprehensive listing of rehab clinics in each state, which you can use to find help nearby. Consult with your primary care physician or your family to see if you should consider traveling or going to a rehab clinic near you. Unless you are planning to check into a comprehensive treatment facility for inpatient rehab, it’s best to seek a rehab clinic near you.

Rehab Centers for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Most drug rehab centers are not affiliated with a hospital and center solely on offering addiction treatment. Still, you may find rehab centers with a more clinical environment to provide comprehensive substance abuse services comparable to a hospital program. In addition, some rehab centers will have a luxury feel, offering a broad range of services, amenities, and accommodations. Individuals are more likely to find specialized care and alternative treatment methods at rehab centers.

There are many ways that rehab centers differ from rehab hospitals and clinics. One of the most significant differences in the variety of treatment options and levels of care available at rehab centers including:

  • Medical detox.
  • Inpatient rehab.
  • Residential treatment.
  • Outpatient rehab.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment.
  • Aftercare programs.

Rehab centers can provide a home-like environment with 24/7 clinical and emotional support. For individuals struggling with severe substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illness, this kind of support is necessary for a sustained recovery. Rehab centers also tend to focus on other wellness areas, such as nutrition, life skills development, and relapse prevention strategies.3

The best rehab centers will create individualized treatment plans to address each patient’s specific needs. They also tend to offer long-term addiction treatment, which may last six months to a year.2 Rehab centers also tend to have a home-like feel with facilities that provide a comfortable environment for people to recover. When choosing a rehab center, always look for one specializing in the type of substance use disorder you are struggling with and provides access to customized treatment and therapies.

What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient?

Drug and alcohol treatment programs generally happen in one of two settings—inpatient or outpatient rehab. While both are equally focused on rehabilitation, each type has unique attributes and benefits to offer. The main difference between inpatient and outpatient programs is the length of time individuals spend at the treatment facility. However, these programs also differ in the type of treatment available, the level of care, and the length of treatment. Before choosing a treatment program, understanding the differences between inpatient and outpatient can help you or a loved one choose the right route to sobriety.

  • Inpatient rehab and treatment: Inpatient recovery programs require patients to check into a controlled environment and stay within the facility overnight. Patients have access to 24-hour medical and emotional support. Patients move into the facility and participate in group and individual therapy sessions to focus on addiction recovery. Inpatient rehab can last anywhere between 28-days to six months.2. Most individuals who need medical detox and attention for co-occurring mental health disorders will be referred to an inpatient rehab and treatment plan.
  • Outpatient rehab and treatment: Outpatient recovery programs are more flexible than inpatient programs. In this level of care, patients stay home but visit the center for 10 to 12 hours a week to focus on drug abuse education, group counseling, and individual therapy. The flexibility of outpatient recovery programs allows patients to maintain a more normal daily routine. Outpatient rehab can last between three months to over a year.2 Outpatient rehab programs are often seen as a step-down from more intense levels of care and focus more on relapse prevention. In many outpatient programs, group counseling is the main component.

Although inpatient and outpatient programs treat addiction, inpatient settings provide a more structured and rigorous treatment plan that could benefit some individuals.

Hospitals and rehab centers are more likely to focus on inpatient rehab programs, while clinics focus on outpatient programs. This is mainly because clinics are not designed to provide amenities for overnight stays. No matter which treatment option you choose for you or a loved one, rehab can help.

Which rehab type is best for me?

An individual’s best type of rehab will vary depending on their unique medical needs. You should speak with a medical professional to determine the best course of action. If you are looking for help, it is crucial to find a rehab facility that offers specialized treatment to care for your needs.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that there are over 14,500 specialized drug rehab centers in the United States.6 Determining the success rate and efficacy of these centers can be challenging, though. Mainly because there is no standard definition of rehab, there is no standard measure for rehab success.

In 2019, among adults 18 or older who perceived that they had a substance use problem, 75.5% considered themselves to be in recovery or to have recovered from their alcohol or drug use problem, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).7

However, with addiction being such a complex disease, pinpointing a single type of treatment that’s best for an individual can be challenging. NIDA has defined several components of comprehensive treatment, one of which states no single treatment is appropriate for everyone.

Research shows that people who complete a rehab program can maintain abstinence and return to effective functioning. Other studies found that in many cases, outpatient rehab is as effective as inpatient treatment. In the end, individual treatment outcomes will vary dramatically depending on the nature of the person’s addiction, how suited a program is to their needs, and the competence of the treatment staff.

Choosing the best rehab option requires careful consideration. Speaking with a licensed mental health counselor, addiction specialist, or physician can help you assess your treatment needs and locate a treatment program that fits your needs.

Does my insurance cover rehab treatment?

The price of rehab shouldn’t stop you from finding treatment, especially when your health insurance may cover some of the cost. Most insurance companies will cover some form of addiction treatment. Keep in mind insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment will vary greatly depending on a person’s treatment plan, needs, and location. To determine the extent of your coverage, contact your insurance provider or check your coverage online.

Sources:

  1. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). What is substance abuse treatment? A booklet for families. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4126. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). 2 Settings, Levels of Care, and Patient Placement.
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Types of Treatment Programs.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Drug Addiction Treatment in the United States.
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

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